E Ink Opens Facility to Develop Flexible Transistors for Use in Electronic Displays
Tuesday, September 18, 2001
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.- Sept. 17, 2001--E Ink Corporation, the leading developer of electronic ink technology for paper-like displays, today announced the opening of a flexible microelectronics facility in Woburn, Mass. The 9,500 square foot building will house E Ink's Microelectronics Technology Group. The group will develop microelectronics, including flexible transistors, which will enable E Ink to create paper-like display prototypes next year. The new semiconductor facility is the first in the world devoted exclusively to developing flexible transistors for use in electronic displays. "Despite the current economic climate, E Ink is investing heavily in R&D and is poised for dramatic growth next year,'' said Jim Iuliano, president and CEO of E Ink. "Our new semiconductor facility will be one of the foremost in the world for the development of flexible displays and moves us closer to RadioPaper(TM), E Ink's ultimate vision for a wireless display that looks and feels like paper.'' Seizing the Lead E Ink's flexible microelectronics facility will create flexible electronic ink displays based on new transistor designs and novel materials and processes. Such active matrix displays could be rolled and flexed as easily as paper. This new capability further consolidates E Ink's leadership position as the technology and commercialization leader in paper-like displays. "William Shockley announced the transistor in 1948, but it wasn't until Texas Instruments perfected a production method in the 1950s that you could actually buy one,'' noted Dr. Michael McCreary, E Ink's vice president of research and development. "Flexible transistors have been possible for several years, but we plan to be first to market by creating a commercial design and a production process that is suitable for high volumes.'' Broad Capabilities Using proprietary equipment that was designed to E Ink's specifications based on two years of research, the Microelectronics Technology Group will work with traditional silicon-based, thin-film transistors as well as a variety of printed conductor and semiconductor materials, including organic, plastic transistors. The new facility contains a specialized clean room built by M-1 Systems of Ipswich, Mass. and can handle displays up to an 18-inch diagonal. "We put the tools in place to develop production methods for several kinds of flexible transistors,'' stated Dr. Peter Kazlas, theleader of E Ink's Microelectronics Technology Group. "From this facility we can provide rapid prototyping of new active matrix displays, develop new manufacturing methods, and even enter low-volume production for specific customers. Using the working prototypes our customers can explore new product designs as early as next year. And as the market develops we will scale up these processes with selected partners in the flat panel display industry.'' Building on Recent Success E Ink has conducted research in the area of flexible displays since 1997 and has numerous patents pending on materials, designs, processes and applications. The company's new facility builds on technology breakthroughs that were announced over the past two years. This year, E Ink won an R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine for its demonstration in November 2000 of the world's first working flexible active matrix display using plastic transistors from Lucent Technologies. In June 2001, E Ink demonstrated the first high-resolution (40 dpi) flexible active matrix display using a novel silicon transistor design that was manufactured on a flexible steel foil. Why Electronic Ink Displays? E Ink's next generation displays are the technology breakthrough that designers of electronic devices have been waiting for. The ultra thin, flexible displays mark the beginning of a new era for battery-powered information appliances such as PDAs, cell phones, pagers, watches and handheld computers. They deliver the readability of paper under virtually any conditions, without backlighting. And electronic ink displays can maintain their image without power, drawing current only when they change, which means batteries can be smaller and last longer.